Earth Sciences Group

Talk: Nördlinger-Ries Meteorite Impact by Bob Loveridge

On Thursday 19 May 2022, Bob Loveridge gave us a very good talk on the Nördlinger-Ries Meteorite Impact Crater. This is to be found in Germany, in the area of western Bavaria and eastern Baden-Württemberg. It is about 24km (15 miles) in diameter, and the town of Nordlingen is situated about 6km (3.4 miles) from the crater centre.

Bob explained how the meteorite crater was formed about 14.8 million years ago, in the Miocene Age. The rock and sediments displaced by the meteorite impact formed very specific ejecta material, which is known as Suevite.

The Suevite is mainly breccia, formed from broken up rock pieces, which were fused together by heat and pressure.

Suevite was used to build some of the buildings in Nordlingen, including the 15th century St George’s Church. Bob used to take students to Nordlingen in order to study the impact formations there, and has some wonderful photos of the views from the top balcony of St George’s Church tower.

Interestingly NASA sent Apollo 14 astronauts for training to Nordlingen in 1970, to learn about the metamorphosed lithology there, so that they could recognise similar structures on the Moon.